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 In Focus

Wanted: Sound Designer for Vacuum Cleaner

Published 2000-01-23

Professor Kurt Sandkuhl, Jönköping University College received a STINT Institutional Grant in 2003 for cooperation with two groups, one at the St Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation of the Russian Academy of Science in St Petersburg and one at Universidad Complutense in Spain. The project has received an annual funding of SEK 200 000.

“Wanted: Sound Designer for Vacuum Cleaner“ How knowledge modeling can help SME-networks.

- This could be the key requirement of a company looking for a cooperation partner for developing a new product series. Most of today’s business relationships are based on personal relationships or established with the help of industrial associations or technology transfer organizations. But how to proceed if specialist knowledge is needed that is offside conventional requirements and in other geographical regions? Or if there’s time pressure to find the most efficient solution among various possibilities for a given scenario? These requirements are not unusual in times of ”global sourcing” and short ”time-to-market” as competitive advantage.

The institutional cooperation between the Computer Aided Integrated Systems Laboratory of St. Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Information Engineering research group of School of Engineering at Jönköping University investigates how knowledge-based systems can be used to support these types of situations. Main focus of the cooperation, which is supported by STINT with 200 000 SEK yearly for up to four years, is the formation of networks of enterprises and knowledge supply in these network. Both research units involved and the responsible researchers, Prof. Alexander Smirnov (St. Petersburg) and Prof. Kurt Sandkuhl (Jönköping) have substantial research activities in the field of semantic technologies, like ontology engineering or knowledge representation. The institutional cooperation creates a unique possibility for applied research based on synergies from competences complementing each other. Furthermore, the build-up of the young research group in Jönköping is supported by exchange of researchers and PhD students with the renowned and well-established unit in St. Petersburg.

The ability of enterprises to form networks and cooperate with partner is an important factor for competitive market position.
In particular small and medium-sizes enterprises (SME) have to be supported in forming temporary networked organisations for joint product development or project work. These networks typically are formed when the competence or resource requirements of a project can not be met by an individual SME. All phases in the “life-cycle” of a network (see above figure) have to be supported by appropriate IT-solutions. The most important phases are community building (gathering interested SMEs in loosely coupled community), formation (selection a project team based on the required competences), social handshaking (building trust and business relationships between the partners), integration of business processes and technical infrastructure, operation, and discontituation (dis-integration of organisation and technology).

Enterprises usually have a number of internal knowledge sources which could be used more systematically and intensively in cooperation projects. Although most knowledge exists in the heads of employees, there usually is a significant amount of externalised knowledge, i.e. stored electronically in documents, databases or information systems. All these knowledge sources are especially important in complex work processes with a number of distributed partners, high requirements with respect to competence and a lot of rules and guidelines to be obeyed. In these situations it is important to discover the exactly “right” knowledge source, to find it “in time” and to get access to it fast. In networked organisations it is usually not transparent to the partners, which knowledge is available at which partner’s site to which costs.

Knowledge supply has to be more than simply installing a search engine or providing a joint repository for all partners. Our approach is to use semantic modelling in order to improve knowledge capturing, knowledge reuse and knowledge transfer. Semantic modelling means in this context that the semantics of all relevant concepts will be modelled in an ontology by capturing the associations between the topics. This ontology implicitly defines a “common understanding” for all partners in the application area and helps to identify and find the most relevant information. Furthermore, the ontology can be used for problem solving, e.g. to detect and integrate relevant knowledge sources in order to find an optimised solution for a set of requirements.

Senast uppdaterad: 06-12-07 11:39

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